Week in Tech: Why Apple won't play iSpy for the FBI, and when a leak isn't a leak


Some weeks are sensible. This hasn't been one of those weeks. We've seen Kanye West demanding money from Mark Zuckerberg, Apple facing off against the Feds, LG accidentally leaking its own phone and a handheld games console that looks very exciting but will probably be rubbish. It's been a particularly weird Week in Tech!

It's iPhone, not spyPhone

In an extraordinary turn of events, the FBI has picked a fight with Apple – and Apple's fighting back. Michelle Fitzsimmons explains: "Essentially, the FBI wants to crack the passcode on an iPhone 5C used by one of the shooters in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. The FBI doesn't have the PIN, and after 10 failed attempts the agency fears the phone will wipe what data is on there – a standard iPhone security feature."

The FBI wants Apple to create a firmware update to disable the automatic wipe, but Apple says that by doing so it would compromise the security of every iOS user. Microsoft and Google have taken Apple's side, albeit in a carefully worded, we've-waved-this-past-the-lawyers way, and organisations such as the EFF and ACLU are on Apple's side too. The outcome of this battle could have enormous implications for the future of smartphone, tablet and computer security, so stay tuned.

When is a phone 'leak' not a leak?

With just days to go before the annual MWC smartphone extravaganza, manufacturers are putting the finishing touches to their carefully planned product launches – and in the case of LG, their retail partners are bollixing up said launches by accidentally putting the new product on sale before it's announced. An e-commerce website in Dubai put the LG G5 up for sale, although the listing has now been pulled.

You've got to wonder how many of these 'accidents' really are accidents, though. Take the 'accidental' posting by Samsung Indonesia of 'The Next Galaxy', a video showing enough information about the Galaxy S7 to add to the hype without giving away too many details. Only a cynic would suggest that such leaks have become a requisite and carefully stage-managed part of the smartphone launch process – but we're cynics, so we're going to say just that.

MWC: Mobile Wows Coming?

Last year's Mobile World Congress brought us the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6, so what can we expect next week? Lots, says John McCann, adding that "We're in for another bumper crop of smartphone action in Barcelona this year". We already know about the Galaxy S6 and LG G5, but we're expecting a lot more. Everything you need to know is in our typically comprehensive MWC 2016 roundup.

The backup that'll last longer than you do

Imagine you had the job of backing up humanity's greatest hits, such as the King James Bible, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Magna Carta and The Ketchup Song by Las Ketchup. You'd need more than a USB 3 hard disk for everything that matters. In fact, you'd need a five-dimensional etching in a holographic image "not unlike those souvenir glass paperweights you see at a gift shop", says Parker Wilhelm. No, he hasn't been on the blue cheese again: researchers at the University of Southampton have created an 'eternal' format which can store 360TB of data and last for 13.8 billion years. And we thought flash drives were pretty clever.

Brand new retro: the handheld ZX Spectrum

Hands up if you saw the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega and thought "Hmm, why can't it be a handheld with fiddly controls and a tiny screen?" No, us neither – but that hasn't stopped Sir Clive Sinclair from putting together an Indiegogo campaign to build a handheld Spectrum. We've got a lot of love for Sinclair and the Spectrum, but we can't help thinking that a handheld Spectrum isn't necessary in a world of smartphones, iPod touches and Nintendo 3DSes.

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